Regional Identity

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Hockey Stick Blades from West Lions Park, London
hockey stick, hockey stick blades,Greg Curnoe, rubber-stamp letters, Nihilist Spasm Band, no method, prints in a series, print, colour relief print, relief print, pop culture, pop art, regionalism, common place subject matter, popular subject matter, 2D art, two-dimensional art, printmaking, series, hockey, hockey sticks, print-making, artist roots, prints, artist passions,
description

In 1989 Curnoe’s Blue Book # 8 was published. It was a rubber-stamped text of 167 pages in which he attempted to list everything he was not. It was an example of Curnoe’s wide-ranging interests and passions. Besides cutting new sets of rubber-stamp letters in his studio, he could also be found pounding the drums in the Nihilist Spasm Band, making lists of Canadian artists, wines or bicycles in his blue books, or researching the historical records of the ownership of the land on which his studio stood.

start quoteI feel that I am rapidly being written out of my own culture.end quote -- Greg Curnoe

“Curnoe has no method, no discipline,” wrote Pierre Théberge in the  catalogueA list which is an inventory of works in a gallery, museum, or other collection. It describes the works, and may contain articles discussing their history, and classifying them in other ways. It may be in the form of a file of cards (or an electronic equivalent), one card for each object, or in the form of a publication (usually a pamphlet or book), whether for a special exhibition or for all or part of a permanent collection.  (Artlex.com)  for a  retrospectiveAn exhibition of work by a senior artist representing all the stages of the artist’s career.  at the National Gallery of Canada in 1982. His artistic approach may have lacked method, but Curnoe’s work was firmly connected to his hometown, as writer and critic Anne Newlands has noted. “Curnoe’s art was rooted in his birthplace of London. Ontario, and reflected views of the city hospital, his family, local and historical heroes, jazz bands and bicycles.” (Newlands, 2000)

With Hockey Stick Blades from West Lions Park, London from the Mendel Art Gallery collection, we get a glimpse into Curnoe’s regionalist approach. The blades from the broken hockey sticks could be from almost anywhere, but the title Curnoe has given the work tells us specifically where he found them.  “In the spring of this year (1965),” Curnoe later wrote, ”several of us were playing lacrosse at the West Lions’ ice pad. I noticed several broken hockey-stick blades on the concrete. I picked up some of them, mounted them on plywood, and primed them on James Reaney’s press. (James Reaney was a playwright who lived near London, Ontario).

“These are the most recent of a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of prints from objects I have been making since 1961,” Curnoe continued. “Some have incorporated glass and other breakable materials that would smash under pressure, and I was able to record the impact. I have also printed peanuts. They stained the paper.”

“Incorporated in this  setThe hardening process of paint, plaster of Paris, concrete, resin, an adhesive, or any other material which must harden before working with it further. (Artlex.com)  of prints is my new rubber stamp set. The numbers were added after the blades were printed.” (Murray, undated)

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Get a piece of paper and some shelled peanuts. Scrunch the peanuts into the paper with a roller or rolling pin. Remove the crushed peanuts and see how they stained the paper. You have now created a work of art à la Greg Curnoe. What does your peanut-stained art piece look like to you?
  • With Hockey Stick Blades, West Lions Park, London Curnoe uses commonplace objects and gives them specific meaning by telling us where they came from. Other artists in this theme, such as Lawren Harris and David Milne, paint recognizable landscape features that give us a sense of place. Does Curnoe’s work give you a sense of place?
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Art and advocacy

Greg Curnoe was among a group of artist in 1968 headed by Jack Chambers, who founded an organization known as CARFAC.  CARFAC, which stands for Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens, is a non–profit national organisation whose mandate is to engage actively in advocacy, lobbying, research and public education on behalf of artists in Canada. CARFAC believes that artists, like professionals in other fields, should be paid fairly for their work and share equitably in profits from their work. In 1976 Canada became the first country to pay exhibition fees to artists. CARFAC successfully lobbied the Canada Council to make the payment of fees to living Canadian artists a requirement for eligibility for Program Assistance Grants to public art galleries.

To find out more about CARFAC go to the following web sites:

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Can you identify these regional symbols associated with Saskatchewan?

Studio Activity

Greg Curnoe uses commonplace  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter associated with regionalism, a practice that often places his work in the  pop artAn art movement and style that had its origins in England in the 1950s and made its way to the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists have focused attention upon familiar images of the popular culture such as billboards, comic strips, magazine advertisements, and supermarket products. Leading exponents are Richard Hamilton (British, 1922-), Andy Warhol (American, 1928?1930?-1987), Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), Claes Oldenburg (American, 1929-), Jasper Johns (American, 1930-), and Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-). (Artlex.com)  genre. Hockey Stick Blades from West Lions Park, London is an example of  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter associated with regionalism; in fact these hockey sticks are specifically from West Lions Park in London, Ontario as indicated in the title of the print. The work falls into the  pop artAn art movement and style that had its origins in England in the 1950s and made its way to the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists have focused attention upon familiar images of the popular culture such as billboards, comic strips, magazine advertisements, and supermarket products. Leading exponents are Richard Hamilton (British, 1922-), Andy Warhol (American, 1928?1930?-1987), Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), Claes Oldenburg (American, 1929-), Jasper Johns (American, 1930-), and Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-). (Artlex.com)  genre because the  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter is taken from  popular cultureLow (as opposed to high) culture, parts of which are known as kitsch and camp. With the increasing economic power of the middle- and lower-income populace since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, artists created various new diversions to answer the needs of these groups. These have included pulp novels and comic books, film, television, advertising, "collectibles," and tract housing. These have taken the place among the bourgeois once taken among the aristocracy by literature, opera, theater, academic painting, sculpture, and architecture. But modernist artists rarely cultivated the popular success of these new cultural forms. Modernist works were little appreciated outside of a small elite. Life magazine's 1950s articles on the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956), and the silkscreened paintings by Andy Warhol (American, 1928?-1987) of soup cans and celebrities signaled unprecedented fusions between high and low art and the transition to the postmodern age. (Artlex.com)  and is something that we can all readily recognize and understand.

  • Brush the water-based ink or paint over the object or roll it over the object using the brayer/roller. Be sure that the ink or paint is not applied too thickly or the textures of the object will not show on the print.
  • You may also consider incorporating other approaches such as using different coloured inks and paints, making several prints on the same paper and even overlapping the prints on the paper.
  • Sign, title and number each print.
  • Clip or pin the prints up on a strung line allowing them to dry before displaying them.
References

Bowering, George.  ‘The Moustache: Memories of Greg Curnoe.’  Centre for Canadian Contemporary Art.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 7, 2008 from:  http://www.ccca.ca/c/writing/b/bowering/bow001t.html

Davey, Frank.  ‘Curnoe, Gregory Richard.’  Canadian Encyclopedia.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 7, 2007 from:  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0002081

Fulford, Robert.  ‘Greg Curnoe.’  The National Post, March 6, 2001.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 7, 2008 from:  http://www.robertfulford.com/GregCurnoe.html

Matuz, Roger.  Contemporary Canadian Artists.  Scarborough, Ontario:  Gale Canada, 1997.

Murray, J., ed. Permanent Collection: Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  Exhibition catalogue.  Oshawa, Ontario: Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 1978.

Murray, Joan.  The Best Contemporary Canadian Art.  Edmonton, Alberta:  Hurtig Publishers, 1987.

Newlands, Anne.  Canadian Art from its Beginnings to 2000.  Willowdale, Ontario:  Firefly Books, 2000.

Theberge, Pierre.  Greg Curnoe: A Retrospective.  Exhibition catalogue.  National Gallery of Canada and National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1982.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning